CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

We should all be united in Jesus Christ

By  Nathan Ko, Catholic Register Special
  • January 24, 2014

Editor’s note: this is the winning essay in the annual essay contest for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity sponsored by The Catholic Register and the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement-Graymoor. Nathan Ko, a 15-year-old student from Markham, Ont.’s St. Brother André High School, is this year’s winner.

“Ut unum sint,” Jesus says, “that they be one” (cf. John 17:21). Since the institution of the Church, Christ has deeply willed that His mystical body remain in perfect oneness. Unfortunately, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church has been led to disunity, divided into various sects and denominations. However, because we are all called to be one body in Christ (cf. Romans 12:5), all Christians must earnestly work towards achieving full and visible Christian unity, particularly by ecumenical dialogue, common prayer and practical co-operation.

Ecumenical dialogue is imperative to achieve full unity among Christians. With humility and a sincere desire to listen, everyone must not regard others antagonistically and impose their beliefs on each other, but be willing to forgive and seek forgiveness, as well as to put aside any prejudices, lest they provoke hostility and lead to further Christian disunity. Dialogue is not just a duty for Church leaders, but for Christians on all levels of society. Within homes, churches and local communities, earnest and fruitful dialogue is essential in building and strengthening Christian unity.

Common prayer is the heart and soul of the ecumenical movement. It is extremely effective in achieving unity because whenever Christians are gathered in Christ’s name, despite their differences, Christ is among them (cf. Matthew 18:20). In every prayer, the same Jesus Christ is present in us, with us and for us. Indeed, Christ Himself is the source of the ecumenical movement as He prayed that His disciples “may all be one” (cf. John 17:21). His longing for His disciples’ oneness ought to be our model for achieving Christian unity, because it is by following Christ’s example and the change of our hearts that the yearning for full and visible Christian unity grows towards maturity.

Furthermore, practical co-operation is also vital in achieving Christian unity. The protection of human dignity, promotion of peace and religious freedom are core values all Christians share through our roots in Christ. By co-operating in mutual interests, we will realize that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. Moreover, not only does such co-operation vividly express our desire for oneness, but also reveals the manifestation of Christ Himself. Such co-operation in action leads to the unity of faith, becoming an extremely powerful means of evangelization and a form of Christian witness to the world (cf. Ut Unum Sint).

Ecumenical dialogue, common prayer and practical co-operation allow Christians to rediscover their fraternal closeness, rebuild understanding and grow in oneness. Indeed, initiatives such as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches are notable milestones in the ecumenical movement.

We should not let doctrinal differences divide us, but let Christ, who was crucified for us, and in whose name we are all baptized, be the source of full and visible Christian unity and the life of Christian ecumenism (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:13).

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